Horn, Fabiana; Corrêa, Andreé Mendes Ribeiro; Lima Barbieri, Nicolle; Glodde, Susanne; Weyrauch, Karl Dietrich; Kaspers, Bernd; Driemeier, David; Ewers, Christa; Wieler, Lothar H.
(25. July 2012):
Infections with Avian Pathogenic and Fecal Escherichia coli Strains Display Similar Lung Histopathology and Macrophage Apoptosis.
In: PLoS One
The purpose of this study was to compare histopathological changes in the lungs of chickens infected with avian
pathogenic (APEC) and avian fecal (Afecal) Escherichia coli strains, and to analyze how the interaction of the bacteria with
avian macrophages relates to the outcome of the infection. Chickens were infected intratracheally with three APEC strains,
MT78, IMT5155, and UEL17, and one non-pathogenic Afecal strain, IMT5104. The pathogenicity of the strains was assessed by
isolating bacteria from lungs, kidneys, and spleens at 24 h post-infection (p.i.). Lungs were examined for histopathological
changes at 12, 18, and 24 h p.i. Serial lung sections were stained with hematoxylin and eosin (HE), terminal deoxynucleotidyl
dUTP nick end labeling (TUNEL) for detection of apoptotic cells, and an anti-O2 antibody for detection of MT78 and
IMT5155. UEL17 and IMT5104 did not cause systemic infections and the extents of lung colonization were two orders of
magnitude lower than for the septicemic strains MT78 and IMT5155, yet all four strains caused the same extent of
inflammation in the lungs. The inflammation was localized; there were some congested areas next to unaffected areas. Only
the inflamed regions became labeled with anti-O2 antibody. TUNEL labeling revealed the presence of apoptotic cells at 12 h
p.i in the inflamed regions only, and before any necrotic foci could be seen. The TUNEL-positive cells were very likely dying
heterophils, as evidenced by the purulent inflammation. Some of the dying cells observed in avian lungs in situ may also be
macrophages, since all four avian E. coli induced caspase 3/7 activation in monolayers of HD11 avian macrophages. In
summary, both pathogenic and non-pathogenic fecal strains of avian E. coli produce focal infections in the avian lung, and
these are accompanied by inflammation and cell death in the infected areas.